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updated: 11/7/2013 7:34 AM

Great Lakes senators urge quick action on carp

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  • Travis Schepker, a biology intern, holds an Asian carp pulled from the Illinois River near Havana, Ill. Scientists are monitoring native fish populations for signs of damage from Asian carp.

      Travis Schepker, a biology intern, holds an Asian carp pulled from the Illinois River near Havana, Ill. Scientists are monitoring native fish populations for signs of damage from Asian carp.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

MILWAUKEE -- All 16 U.S. senators from Great Lakes states sent a letter Wednesday to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, urging quick action to stop the movement of Asian carp.

The senators want fast action to stop the invasive fish from swimming up the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal into the lakes.

The letter was sent one day after news broke that Asian carp DNA had been detected for the first time in Lake Michigan waters off Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Under orders from Congress, the Army Corps has been studying the problem of invasive carp making their way to the world's largest freshwater system for several years. The Corps is scheduled to release a plan to block the fish in January.

"It is our understanding that this report will provide a set of alternatives for Congress to assess but will not include a formal recommendation of which alternative would be most effective in preventing species, like Asian carp, from transferring between the two basins in the long term," the senators wrote in the letter, according to the Journal Sentinel.

"It is our expectation that the Corps will work with Congress, our staff, and regional stakeholders before and after the report is issued so that we can expeditiously determine how to best move forward with a comprehensive approach to address Asian Carp and other aquatic invasive species."

The senators represent Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.

The Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal is considered the primary invasion pathway for two species of Asian carp -- bighead and silver. The canal was built more than century ago to flush sewage toward the Mississippi River and down to the Gulf of Mexico.

The only thing now standing between the Asian carp-infested Mississippi River basin and Lake Michigan is an electric barrier on the canal that has a history of power outages and was not turned up to a voltage strong enough to repel juvenile fish until 2011.

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